Plenary speakers


Teresa Gómez Reus is Professor of American literature at the University of Alicante, Spain. She has published on Anglo-American women writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, feminist literary theory, spatial criticism, and women’s writing of theFirst World War. She has been recipient of several fellowships and she has been visiting professor at Princeton University, M.I.T., and King’s College, London. Among her publications are her edited volumes Inside Out: Women Negotiating, Appropriating, Subverting Public and Private Space (with Arancha Usandizaga; Rodopi, 2008), ¡ZonaProhibida! Mary Borden, una enfermera norteamericana en la Gran Guerra (Biblioteca Javier Coy, 2011); Mujeres al frente: Testimonios de la Gran Guerra (Huerga y Fierro, 2012), Women in Transit through Literary Liminal Spaces (with Terry Gifford; Palgrave 2013), Edith Wharton, del viaje como arte (Línea del Horizonte, 2016),and her critical edition of Edith Wharton’s La edad de la inocencia (Cátedra,2020).

This is an indoor headshot of Teresa Gómez Reus. She is a white woman with brown short hair and glasses. She wears a cream-colored cardigan and there is a bookshelf behind her.

This is an outdoor headshot of Robert McRuer. He is white man in his mid-fifties, with very short salt and pepper hair and beard. He wears a gray short-sleeve shirt and his arms are crossed. There is a tree with green leaves and blue sky behind him.


Robert McRuer is Professor of English at The George Washington University, where he teaches queer theory, disability studies, and critical theory in general. He is the author, most recently, of Crip Times: Disability, Globalization, and Resistance (NYU, 2018) and of Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (NYU, 2006), which has recently been translated into Spanish as Teoría Crip: Señales Culturales de lo Queer y de la Discapacidad. He is the editor of several volumes, most recently, with David Bolt, the multi-volume series A Cultural History of Disability (Bloomsbury, 2020).

Matthew Stratton

Matthew Stratton is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. Most recently, he is the author of “Modernism, Personality, and the Racialized State” for the Cambridge History of American Modernism (forthcoming) and the editor of The Routledge Guide to Politics and Literature in English (forthcoming). He is also the author of The Politics of Irony in American Modernism (Fordham University Press, 2014).

This is an indoor headshot of Matthew Stratton. He is a white, middle-aged man with short, thinning, brown hair and a greying beard. He is wearing glasses, a tartan tweed jacket and navy knit necktie and is sitting in front of bookshelves..


This is a headshot of Michael Rockland. He is white man who wears a blue shirt. The background of the photo is black.

This is a headshot of Luis Girón. He is white man who wears a white shirt and hat. He also wears glasses. The background of the photo is black.


Michael Aaron Rockland is professor of American Studies Emeritus at Rutgers University. His early career was in the U.S. diplomatic service, during which he was a cultural attaché in both Argentina and Spain . He is the author of sixteen books, five of which have received special recognition and prizes. His first book, Sarmiento’s Travels in the United States in 1847 (Princeton), was chosen by The Washington Post’s Book World as one of the “Fifty Best Books of the Year.” His novel, A Bliss Case (Coffee House) was a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year.” A book he co-wrote, Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike (Rutgers) was chosen by the New Jersey State Library as one of the “Ten Best Books Ever Written on New Jersey or by a New Jerseyan.” His latest books are a new edition of The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel (Rutgers University Press) and the novel Married to Hitler (Hansen Publishing Group), as well as two memoirs, An American Diplomat in Franco Spain and Navy Crazy (also Hansen). Rockland has won seven major teaching/lecturing awards, including the National Teaching Award in American Studies. He has lectured in some twenty-three countries around the world. A regular contributor to New Jersey Monthly magazine, he has also worked in television and film production, mostly for P.B.S., including scripting and acting in one movie, Three Days on Big City Waters. He is regularly interviewed on N.P.R.

Luis Girón Echevarría is Associate Professor of American Literature at the University of Extremadura, in Cáceres. From August 1990 to May 1991 he was a Visiting Professor of Spanish at the University of Northern Iowa, USA. In 2003 he was a recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to attend the Salzburg session “Contemporary American Literature: Cultural Diversity and Aesthetic Continuities”, organized by the Salzburg Seminar, and chaired by Professor Emory Eliott. He is the author of articles and books on writers such as John Steinbeck, Washington Irving, James Hearst, Carson McCullers, Ernest Hemingway, Scott F. Fitzgerald and Langston Hughes, among others. He is presently at work on articles on Helena Viramontes and Tennessee Williams. He has organized various national and international conferences: I International Conference on American Literature (1995); II International Conference on American Literature (1998); International Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial Conference: The Long Shadow of a Tormented Genius (2009); International Tennessee Williams Centennial Conference: Embracing the Island of his Self (2011); International Arthur Miller Centennial Conference (2015), and the XIII SAAS Conference: Understanding (Human) Nature (2017). His main interests are in the field of American Literature, Literary Translation, Stylistics and Multicultural American Literature.


In spite of blood and anguish: Resourcefulness and resilience in American narratives from the Western Front

This lecture considers six cases of American writing from the Western Front that do not tally with the disillusionist paradigm, the preponderant assumption in First World War criticism that this cataclysmic event could only be truly represented with disillusion and bitterness. By contrast, the lecture uses alternative critical lenses, in particular Rebecca Solnit’s notion of ‘A Paradise Built in Hell’ and Charles Fritz’s findings regarding human reactions in disaster situations, to discuss ways in which a variety of American writers at the Front engaged with the rupture of normalcy. Very different in their aesthetic and thematic concerns, they all suggest that resourcefulness, resilience, altruism, and connectedness may be built when patterns are shattered, and by doing so they put to the test the values we associate with normalcy, while providing an exceptional window into social desire and human agency. 

Disability Art on Lockdown; Or, Crip World-Making

“Disability Art on Lockdown; or, Crip World-Making” attends to disabled ways of knowing that have been particularly useful for navigating the global economic, political, and health crisis we are facing.  Building on the work I put forward in Crip Times: Disability, Globalization, and Resistance, the title of this presentation has a double valence, gesturing first towards the ways in which disability and art have been, increasingly on lockdown (facing massive cuts from austere  governments everywhere), even before 2020.  Second, however, the title points to some of the ways that crip art, communication, and resistance were generated during the lockdown of 2020 and beyond.  The presentation overviews several contemporary crip modalities for generating crip culture.  First, it considers how artists and activists put forward a crip/queer sense of process over product.  Second, disability art on lockdown is shaped in crip collectivity that is grounded in disability justice.  Third, it performs or actualizes what have come to be called, following Merri Lisa Johnson’s coinage of the term, cripistemologies, disabled ways of knowing.  Fourth, disability art on lockdown necessitates and thickens what Emma Sheppard has termed “crip pacing” And finally, disability art on lockdown forges what various scholars, activists, and artists, such as Eliza Chandler, have imagined as accessible crip world-making, which has gone by many names, including what Aimi Hamraie terms “alter-livability.”

Political scientists and common sense tell us that democracy has been retreating in the face of authoritarianism for decades, while both journalists and literary critics have recently looked to fictional representations of dictatorship as a guide to understand our present moment. Might literary history yet help us to reimagine our affective and rational relationship to democratic or undemocratic political institutions? Are conventional literary forms like the novel still worth sustained consideration when social media has permanently accelerated the distribution of (mis)information into entirely, categorically new epistemologies and affects? 20th-century “dictator novels” from the U.S. say yes. Focusing on a very long 1930s, genre fiction stages the conditions under which executive authority can, should, or shouldn’t violate established democratic procedures, and the extent to which those procedures and the public they ostensibly serve should be cherished or feared, fortified or restricted, known or felt. Reflecting upon the promise and perils of ambiguously delineated executive power when key components of political judgment are themselves absent, fiction diagnoses a crisis hinging on the political power of common sense, which can be the goal of an “aesthetic education” beyond repressive discourses of normalcy.

A Conversation with Michael Rockland (Hosted by Luis Girón Echevarría)

Michael Aaron Rockland, though an American, has been a member of SAAS since its beginnings.  He came to Spain in 1964 as Agregado Cultural Adjunto and Director of the Casa Americana with the American Embassy in Madrid.  A major function of cultural attaches is to foster intellectual and cultural interest between their countries.  But Professor Rockland found little such interest in the United States during Franco Spain – whatever interest there was tended to be political and military.  The same was true of the United States regarding Spain.  Spain was fascist but it was anti-communist.  Spain cooperated with the Cold War by allowing U.S. air and submarine bases, some nuclear.  It was an unholy alliance.

Thus, Spain was not a fertile ground for the work of a cultural attache. Nevertheless, one of Professor Rockland´s best friends was the prestigious Professor Javier Coy.  When there was talk of forming a Spanish Association for American Studies Michael endeavored to have the embassy give it as much support as possible even though he had already moved on from his position with the foreign service and was enjoying working in academia, first as a dean and then a Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University.

Today, Professor Rockland is here as a writer who has published fifteen books and is working on the sixteenth.  One of those books, first published by the Universidad de Valencia as part of the library Carme Manuel founded and which honors Javier Coy, is Un Diplomático Americano en la España de Franco, later published in the United States as An American Diplomat in Franco Spain.  In conversation with Luis Girón Echevarría, Rockland will be telling a few of the stories from that book in Granada.

The first recollection is of a day he spent with Martin Luther King in Madrid.  The second dives into one specific event that had him dodging Franco himself.   Another story he shares is the accidental dropping of hour hydrogen bombs (luckily unarmed) on the town of Palomares and into the Mediterranean (the biggest story in the world at the time), the effects on his cultural work, and the fact that the issue was never fully resolved.  Rockland will then talk about the making of the movie based on Nobel Prize winner, Boris Pasternak´s, “Dr. Zhivago”, of the choice of his five-year-old son for the part of Sasha, Zhivago´s son.

Another story, not included in the book, is the finding of Leonardo da Vinci´s notebooks, in the stacks of the Spanish National Library in 1967 that were unknown to the library, by an American Fulbright scholar and the cultural, political, and intellectual argument which ensued in which Professor Rockland and the U.S. Embassy were involved. The professor wanted credit at his American university for finding these precious documents. The library was reluctant to admit that it had had these materials yet had no record of them.

Time permitting, Michael will share with us his unique writing style that has him working on two manuscripts of different genres from fiction to memoirs to non-fiction, to scholarly pieces, simultaneously.